Alejo Carpentier – Los Pasos Perdidos Sunday, Sep 26 2010 

A long time ago I posted a translation of a Pablo Neruda poem that I enjoyed quite a bit. That translation was not mine, and it has been a long time since I’ve tried any heavy translating, but I thought I would give it a quick try.

Los Pasos Perdidos, written by Alejo Carpentier, is one of my favorite novels in Spanish. This quote comes from a moment when the protagonist is struck by the seemingly purposeful beauty that surrounds him. Traveling on the River Orinoco, he thinks the following:

“Llego a preguntarme a veces si las formas superiores de la emoción estética no consistirán, simplemente, en un supremo entendimiento de lo creado. Un día, los hombres descubrirán un alfabeto en los ojos de las calcedonias, en los pardos terciopelos de la falena, y entonces se sabrá con asombro que cada caracol manchado era, desde siempre, un poema.”

And my translation:

“There are times when I wonder whether the superior forms of aesthetic emotion should not consist, simply, in a supreme understanding of creation. One day men will discover an alphabet in the eyes of chalcedony; in the velveted dun of the moth. And so it will be known, and wondered at, that each speckled snail’s shell was, from the beginning, a poem.”


I am unsure if I really captured it or not, but I still like it. Any suggestions on the translation? Please improve it!

Alabaster Friday, Jun 13 2008 

By Rocky Votolato

on the outside looking in / i’ve never been able to crack the code / to break the secret spell / that would open up the door and let me in / to everything I’ve been looking for so hard I’ve never seen / but I feel my strength returning tonight / its flowing from the purest well to ever give water / It spills out into an ocean where the sharks are circling / a carnival of counterfeits has no room for something real


arrogance and ego wrapped around every word / shouted from the pulpit as a judgment to control / these were my roots my seed was thrown in shallow soil / I grew into the thorn bushes to be scorched by the sun / but I feel the gravel move beneath my feet / the smell of the gasoline mixed in with the trees / when my faith is strong I know my strength / the threats will be screamed when the vultures fell threatened


so I’ll open up the door and let you in / I want to break the alabaster smell the sweet perfume / and when the bottle is broken I’ll have nothing left to give / I’ll know I’ll already have everything worth having / but I feel my strength returning tonight / its flowing from the purest well to ever give water / it spills out into and ocean where the sharks are circling / a carnival of counterfeits want to crucify something real

W.B. Yeats and Youth Sunday, Jun 8 2008 

To a Child dancing in the wind


Dance there upon the shore;

What need have you to care

For wind or water’s roar?

And tumble out your hair

That the salt drops have wet;

Being young you have not known

The fool’s triumph, nor yet

Love las as soon as won,

Nor the best labourer dead

And all the sheaves to bind.

What heed have you to dread

The monstrous crying of wind?



Had no one said those daring

Kind eyes should be more learn’d?

Or warned you how despairing

The moths are when they are burned,

I could have warned you, but you are young,

So we speak a different tongue.


O you will take whatever’s offered

And dream that all the world’s a friend,

Suffer as your mother suffered,

Be as broken in the end.

But I am old and you are young,

And I speak a barbarous tongue.


I doubt that I have enough hair for it to tumble anywhere, and I’m nowhere near the ocean, but I connect with this image. It makes me sad that I’ve begun to speak the barbarous language of a “grown-up.” I talk about jobs, paying bills, and being responsible. The oil in my car needs to be changed, and I must consolidate my school loans. 

And while I do love growing up, making good decisions, and being a good son, brother, and friend, a part of me hopes for the simple wonder and freedom that we all had as kids. I dream of having those daring, kind eyes all over again. To be ready to be a friend to anyone, and open myself to honest experience all over again. 




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